"Parents need to love their children."
Translation:Los padres necesitan amar a sus hijos.
Please elucidate---I know the rule but do not understand it---for if indeed we are talking about parents in general then "parents/padres" is far more accurate than "the parents/los padres." However in Spanish the rule requires the definite articles even though it ususally, as here, changes or at least clouds the meaning. Sort of like "tiene que (any infinitive)" is not "have to to (infinitive)". One says the word, caminar e.g., when one does not mean "to walk" but only walk, 'tiene que caminar' is not "have to to walk" similarly as in this example "los padres/the parents" does not mean parents in specific but in general. As far as I can tell these rules make NO SENSE like the rules for matching gender or number. So rather than understanding I just memorize and move on. However, if you could help me understand that would be great.
I sympathize Tom. The SpanishDict site does a pretty good job of explaining. It states is that if you are talking about something in general terms you use the article. This is just how Spanish works and you can't apply English logic to it.
As for the other stuff you simply have to remember that you are dealing with two separate and independently developed languages. It is unreasonable to think that both languages would do things the exact same way. I often think we are a little unfortunate in that English is often the odd man out with many of these languages. What I mean is that most other languages use the gender/number matching you mentioned. So the differences tend to be less between say Spanish and French than they are with English. Even German has more in common with them as they have three genders (they add neuter).
Sorry that this was more pep talk and less informative. The important thing to remember is that you need to forget your English rules as they will often get in the way of learning. Also 'word for word' translations simply do not often work. Instead you need to translate the intent of the sentence. For example: If I say 'Tango miedo' it translates (word for word) to 'I have fear'. We don't say that in English though so the correct translation would really be 'I am afraid' or 'I'm scared'.
I don't disagree with the underlying meaning of your translation, but in a literal sense, necesitar is "to need" and tener que is "have to." So there is the very slightest difference in nuance. What I am saying is that necesitar is better for a language course like this where you are given a sentence out of context, but if you were translating a paragraph it might be a fine translation depending on context and voice.
DrHarvs, I think in this case it is a difference of contextual meanings. In this case we are talking about a 'family' love which 'amar' can be used for. Used with people, 'encantar' is closer to the 'enchanted' or 'romantic' side of love so inappropriate in this case. I'm not a native speaker though so it would be good to get a second opinion on this.